WALKING DEAD COMPENDIUM VOL.1 TP
Writer: Robert Kirkma
Art: Charlie Adlard & Tony Moore
Matt C: A bit of a cheat this. Not only is it a trade paperback collecting the first 48 issues of The Walking Dead, it's actually been released before, so it's no exactly a new book that we're bringing to your attention here. However, having just read thing in the last month I think now's as good a time as any to comment on it. Basically, I missed the boat on this one. I'm not a huge zombie fan, and when it initially debuted Kirkman was largely unfamiliar to me, so there wasn't much I could latch onto to make me feel it was worth my time. Obviously since then I couldn't help but notice the plaudits heaped on it, but I figured it was too late to catch up by that point. I guess news that Frank 'Shawshank Redemption' Darabont was adapting the comic for an AMC TV series (AMC being the home of the excellent Mad Men and Breaking Bad) was reason enough to make me think now was the time to read the thing - being a 'comic fan' I really should acquire an opinion about a book that's about to make a big splash in a different medium. I can't have regular people getting clued up on something comics-related at the same time as me! So anyway, I picked this up a while back and finally got around to starting it a few weeks back.... and finished it not long after. I can confirm - particularly in this format where you can dive into the next 'issue' straight away – that The Walking Dead is a thoroughly gripping page-turner. Kirkman's dialogue may be clunky and overly explanatory (especially early on), but the characterization is on the money and the situations he plunges his cast into keep you hooked. While essentially a zombie book, for long stretches of time the rambling undead barely register as the real horror manifests itself in the way the human survivors respond to the new world they're living in. There are plenty of examples of this throughout the book, but it does contain a handful of scenes that are as jaw-droppingly shocking as anything I've ever seen in comics. It lacks the streamlined intelligence of Garth Ennis' recent Crossed, but it's a riveting read and I predict the TV show will be a phenomenon. If, like me, you didn’t get onboard with it early on, this Compendium edition is a perfect place to catch up.
INCOGNITO: BAD INFLUENCES #1
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Sean Phillips
James R: Oh yes. It's back. If you put Brubaker and Phillips together, you get comics gold. It's a simple equation, and it's one that's bound to work out again, as they return to the neo-pulp world of Zac Overkill. Details are sketchy. This time, Overkill is "on a hunt into darkest corners of the super-criminal underworld where he was raised." But what does that matter? Brubaker. Phillips. Crime. Win!
G.I. JOE: ORIGINS #19
Writer: Larry Hama
Art: Joe Benitez
Stewart R: I’ve mentioned a few G.I. Joe titles in Ten Forward over the past couple of years and admittedly they’ve been somewhat hit and miss but with Larry Hama at the helm you know that you’re getting the original and best. ‘The Silent Interlude’ is possibly one of the most talked about Joe stories of all time (I’m sadly still to read it in full) and ‘Hush Job’ was the second successful wordless chapter which still lingers in my memory some 18 years after first reading it. Well, Hama is back at it again and the Joe’s ultimate stealth weapon, Snake Eyes, dives straight in to another silent special. IDW have enlisted the awesomely talented Joe Benitez to handle the visual storytelling and I think they’ve chosen the right guy to make an issue like this work effectively.
MOUSE GUARD: THE BLACK AXE #1
Writer: David Petersen
Art: David Petersen
Rob N: More mouse comics. Despite not being able to tell the characters apart (even if a couple of them do have different coloured fur) Petersen’s series won me over from the very first issue with its exceptional art and decent story telling. The current mini, Legends of the Guard, has proved to be fun, but no matter how good it can never compete with Petersen’s own work. Although my sympathies really lie with cats and weasels, it’s hard not to like these plucky mice as they struggle against adversity. Mouse Guard is a rare example of a comic that has the potential to engage the interest of adults and children alike.
WEIRD WAR TALES #1
Wrter: Darwyn Cooke, Ivan Brandon & Jan Strnad
Art: Darwyn Cooke, Nic Klein & Gabriel Hardman
Matt C: I'm not entirely sure why DC have designated September 'War' month (perhaps they know something we don't?) but I couldn't help noticing a certain creator's name on one of the books and that immediately placed it on my 'to buy' list. If you've followed this site for a while you'll know that I'll pick up just about anything that Darwyn Cooke puts his name to. The man's a modern master of the medium and while he may not be as prolific as others, when he does release something it's generally peerless. That's all I can really say, but that should be enough. War comics aren't really in vogue at the moment, but that doesn't mean there isn't the potential for some great stories, and with Cooke involved? It's an easy sell.
Writers: Joe Hill & Jason Ciaramella
Art: Nat Jones
Andy H: Not much is given away as to the plot but being the trusting kind of guy I am, I'm willing to give this a shot. Aw, who am I kidding? With Joe Hill's name attached of course I'm going to pick this up! Joe is joined by co-writer Jason Ciaramella for this one-shot. We're promised 'flame, fur and ferocity' in this tale set in renaissance Italy. A battle of man versus beast and in the images I've seen that means a great big bear! Nat Jones will hopefully bring his usual dark style to full effect for this one.
HEROIC AGE: ONE MONTH TO LIVE #1-5
James R: This has caught my eye for a couple of reasons - firstly, I like a story that encompasses large parts of a comics universe without being some ultra-crossover-mega-event. Secondly, I also think that this kind of tale is one that Marvel does well. Dennis Sykes, a banker, finds out that he has gained powers, but at a price. They're killing him. He has a month to live, so what should he do? The pitch for this reminds me of the classic Tangled Web issue 'Severance Package' and also Byrne's FF tale of a dangerously powered everyman. There's going to be an issue a week in September, written & drawn by different creative teams, so it's almost a 'realtime' comic. Definitely one to watch in a month short on new releases!
KICK-ASS 2: BALLS TO THE WALL #1
Writer: Mark Millar
Art: John Romita Jr
Tom P: I’m a huge Mark Millar fan and I'm sure you will all agree that when he gets it right his writing is a true joy. For me Kick-Ass is up there with The Ultimates and Superman: Red Son. Its pure comic book enjoyment and reading it reminded me of watching Kill Bill for the first time: a fun, bloody, genre-bursting homage with all the energy you expect from Romita Jr's chunky iconic artwork. It was great and the movie was just as entertaining. The film may have its differences to the comic but they both got to the same point with style. So obviously I’m keen to see what lies ahead for Dave Lizewski and the scene stealing Hit Girl. I cant wait to see if the second arc lives up to the trademark Millar hype and hope it won't take quite as long and be as late as its predecessor was. Millar's current Icon book Nemesis has yet to impress me so here’s hoping the Kick-Ass team can find that magic again this August (rather than September like just about everything else in this months' Previews!).
Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Pasqual Ferry
Rob N: These days I don’t have much in the way of character loyalty when it comes to the established Marvel and DC superhero universes. I’m unlikely to stick with a title out of dogged determination to maintain a set of issues when it goes through a bad patch. Consequently my collection tends to leap frog various runs if I don’t like what the writer/artist is doing. Case in point: Thor. I enjoyed the JMS reboot, but didn’t take kindly to Marvel editorial dictating a change of direction to the writer. JMS didn’t like it either and promptly quit, which left me in no mood to stick with the title. But Matt Fraction is one of the few superhero writers around that I trust to pick up a character and deliver a series that simultaneously respects the established history while taking an innovative approach to what comes next. His work on Immortal Iron Fist and Invincible Iron Man speaks for itself. Thor was the first superhero I remember liking as a child, but at times the character has had a rough ride with creative teams who produced second-rate work. With Fraction aboard for a (hopefully) long run, I have high hopes for the character once more.
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Art: Jefte Paolo
Stewart R: Anyone who’s read this site over the past couple of years is sure to have seen my ongoing love for the work done in the sadly missed Avengers: Initiative series, and one of the biggest successes of the tail end of that book was developing Taskmaster as a villain questioning his place in the world. This autumn sees Fred Van Lente give the skull-masked sword-for-hire a miniseries of his own, and what a premise it is. The man with the photographic reflexes has suffered a side-effect to his powers: so many fighting styles and superhero reflexes have been stored in his brain that he’s been overwriting the memories of his own past and upbringing. Not only that but following Siege someone in the criminal underground thinks that he’s done a deal with Steve Rogers and put a hefty price on Taskmaster’s head. Cue death-squads, soldiers of opportunity and bags of Hydra, AIM and Sons of the Serpent agents out to collect. Sounds like one heck of ride and I’ll certainly be buying a ticket for it!